With the passing of Memorial Day weekend, the basketball recruiting trail begins to intensify. Over the next few weeks, prospects across the country will be making unofficial visits to schools before one of the most important periods of their careers – the July evaluation period.
With five scholarship players returning and an incoming class that adds another five, Billy Donovan and the Florida
Gators will only have three scholarships to give to the class of 2008. Following Middle Village (N.Y.) Christ the King point guard Erving Walker's
commitment in December, the list of available scholarships was dropped to two.
Since there are only two spots left (not considering any unexpected departures), the small forward position will not be a priority for Donovan and company.
After all, the Gators return 6-7, 235-pound forward Dan Werner. Werner averaged 8.9 minutes per game last season, seeing time in every game but one. He struggled from the floor, hitting just 30 percent of his shots most of which came from behind the 3-point line, but in a more defined role, Werner's shooting is sure to improve. Of his 85 shots, 58 were from behind the arc, but despite his offensive tendencies to put up the deep shot, he did pull in 50 rebounds.
Add one of the top small forward prospects in the country in Chandler Parsons from the class of 2007, and the Gators are solid for the next few years at the No. 3 spot. Florida also has the option to go small and play Nick Calathes at the 3-spot, or they can go big and play Jonathan Mitchell.
Still, there is a list of attractive small forwards, that not only has the Gators on the short list, but the Gators are paying close attention to them as well.
Ones to Watch
After winning two straight National Championships, the Gators can start at the top of the list, and that includes five-star small forward Al-Farouq Aminu. As one of the top prospects in the class of 2008, Aminu is a 6-8, 190-pound forward who can get up and down the court. He is very athletic and has a knack for driving to the basket from the outside. He can make the outside jumper and plays solid defense, making him comparable to Corey Brewer with his length. Out of Norcross (Ga.), Aminu seems to like the ACC schools, but the Gators are chasing him hard.
From Flushing (N.Y.) Holy Cross is 6-6.5, 180-pound forward Sylven Landesberg. The Gators are in his top-five, but a decision isn't likely anytime soon. Another five-star prospect, Landesberg has the ability to score from the outside, but with his size similar to Calathes, he is a long shot.
Out of Maysville (Ky.) Mason County is 6-6, 185-pound small forward Darius Miller. Miller spent last summer playing in the same AAU program as incoming Gator Alex Tyus – the D1 Greyhounds. He likes the Gators and had Donovan following him closely at the King James Classic in April. Miller is very athletic and has the flexibility to play either the 3 or 4 spot.
The homegrown small forward is Miami (Fla.) Pace's Rayford Shipman. He will be in Gainesville within the next few weeks for a visit and lists the Gators in his top-five. Shipman helped Pace capture the 4-A state championship, pouring in 20 points.
Moving to the other side of the country is Gig Harbor (Wash.) small forward Clarence Trent. At 6-7, 200-pounds Trent has the ability to knock down the outside shot as well as take it to the basket. He's a strong defender and has some strong moves in the post.
Next, we'll take a look at what power forwards are on the FightinGators.com watch list.
Basketball Watch List: Centers
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